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Bolton House and Other Mysteries

August 2003

In the spring of 1998 I left my husband after an explosive argument. I found shelter at the Bolton House, a refuge for abused women and their children.

The Bolton House is a three-story Victorian dwelling in downtown Eau Claire, Wisconsin. It was named after a local policeman who had been killed investigating a domestic dispute. Many clients have passed through its doors.

To give a better perspective of my story I will first describe the house from front to back. The multi-roomed basement is where private offices and a large rock-walled, walk-in food pantry are located. When you walk into the house on the first floor, there are open offices and a visiting lounge. Beyond that is a day room stocked with toys and with a large bay window facing the back yard, then the main staircase. Next a kitchen where the basement stairs were located, laundry facilities, and finally by the back door a sunken room where the handicapped clients are put up. The second floor is the most interesting of all. There is a very small landing with immediate access to two bedrooms and a recreation room for relaxing and watching television. Visible from the rec room are two more bedrooms and a bathroom. When you walk back there you will find yet another hallway leading off to the left with a back staircase and three more bedrooms. One of those bedrooms must have been a servant's quarters in past decades, it contains an old cookstove and storage cabinets. The back staircase is closed off with a baby gate to keep small children off it, it leads nowhere except only down to a locked security door to the back yard.

Now you have an idea of the house's layout. I was told there were spirits present in the shelter by an elderly staff member who had been working there for the past ten years. But there she herself had never experienced any supernatural activities or manifestations. She described the resident spook as a 'happy spirit'.

While there I stayed in the bedroom closest to the back staircase. I would hear muffled bumpings like someone was running up and down the staircase. I lived there for two months and no one ever used that staircase, to my knowledge.

One day after school and work my thirteen year old son and I returned to the house. My son was hungry and ran on through to the kitchen to find a snack while I stopped to talk to a staff member in the open office. A few moments later I followed him. I walked through the day room and saw another boy standing at the bay window looking at the back yard. His back was facing me. He was about my son's age, wore a football jersey and was slightly bullnecked with a dark-haired, small round head. I thought nothing of it except that here was someone my son could make friends with. Usually, and at that time, I had only seen toddlers and babies at the shelter. I went into the kitchen where my son was going through the cabinets and said, "There's a kid your age in the toy room. Why don't you go talk to him?"

He ran into the toy room to look but the boy had already disappeared. He came back and said "What kid?" I went back into the day room and then out to the open offices to ask about the boy. For the safety of their clients, the staff kept strict tabs on who was in the house at any given time. They had no idea who I was talking about! I never saw him again.

When I finally had saved enough money to leave the shelter and acquire an apartment of my own, I moved into the first floor of an old house in another part of the downtown area. The apartment was clean and bright and I had bought new furniture and beds for it. I loved that place. Only one pitfall, though, I went from one ghost to another. I never saw anything, but this new ghost's bag was physical contact. Whenever I lay down to sleep in my bed, it would slap at my feet and once poked me in the chest. I felt that finger as though it were completely solid. And whenever I turned on the overhead fan I could also hear the sound of a radio playing, a loud, raucous rock station. I could never quite make out what the deejay was shouting. I didn't have a radio.

I lived in that apartment for about eighteen months. I don't know why the ghosts didn't frighten me. I never felt in any way threatened at all.

Well, that's my story. Hope you enjoyed it. Thanks for reading!

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